They Say It’s Your Birthday!

Today we started by taking a tour of the National Gallery. I had never been there before, so I was really excited to see what type of art they had. They had a lot of really beautiful pieces. One of my favorites was a piece called The Ambassadors, which was painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1533. The painting depicts two wealthy men. The most interesting part of the piece is the skull near the bottom. When you look at the skull from the front, it is distorted, but when you look at it from the right, it looks normal.

After the tour of the National Gallery, we had lunch at Pret a Manger, then we went to Westminster Abbey. I had already been to Westminster Abbey, but it was still beautiful nonetheless! Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside, but everything was very intricate! We were allowed to take pictures outside, so just imagine the same intricacies inside, plus beautiful stained glass!

After visiting Westminster, I decided to take a stroll down the South Bank. I got some great pictures of Big Ben and the London Eye with the sun. I love walking down the South Bank. It was especially nice this afternoon because it was not very crowded.

Today was my birthday, so after walking along the South Bank, I decided to go see the Book of Mormon! (review follows)

I had been wanting to see it forever because I am a HUGE fan of South Park (Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, are also the creators behind the Book of Mormon). Matt Stone and Trey Parker teamed up with Robert Lopez (co-creator of the musical, Avenue Q) to write the book, music, and lyrics. While I have not seen Avenue Q, I’ve heard that it is really funny and, after seeing The Book of Mormon, I would love to see Avenue Q as well!

I saw The Book of Mormon on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 7:30 pm at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End. The Book of Mormon is about two Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda to try to convert the native people to the Mormon religion. The two missionaries are as different as night and day. Elder Price is a devoted Mormon who is popular among the other missionaries, while Elder Cunningham, knows little about being a Mormon and is seen as a nerd by the other missionaries. When the two arrive in Uganda, they realize that it is a place full of poverty and disease and that converting the people to the Mormon religion will be more difficult than they thought.

The musical started out with Jesus and Joseph Smith talking about the Book of Mormon. At first I was confused because the actors were not actually speaking, they were lip-syncing with an audio track with Matt Stone voicing Jesus and Trey Parker voicing Joseph Smith. After the short beginning with Jesus and Joseph Smith, the main actors came out. I was very pleasantly surprised that the actors playing the main leads had American accents. After the show, I looked up information about the cast. The two main leads, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, are both played by American actors. Nic Rouleau (Elder Price) started as the standby (eventually playing the role full-time) for Elder Price for the Broadway production and reprised the role on The Book of Mormon’s US Tour, before moving to the West End production. A.J. Holmes (Elder Cunningham) started as the standby for Elder Cunningham for the Broadway production and played the role full-time on The Book of Mormon’s US Tour, before moving to the West End production. Both characters played their respective roles very well and I found them both to be extremely funny. I really enjoyed their non-verbal behavior, because it made the already ridiculous script even more ridiculous.

My favorite scene was a musical number called the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream. Elder Price ends up having a dream about going to hell. The dream is full of weird looking devils, Satan, and tons of pop culture references like Jeffery Dahmer and Hitler. It was completely outrageous and I could definitely see the similarities in style and comedy between South Park and The Book of Mormon. Another similarity between South Park and The Book of Mormon are the pop culture references. Both rely heavily on references and some of the jokes fell a little flat when the audience didn’t catch or understand the reference. I can’t remember the exact quote, but there was a joke about New Jersey that I laughed at; whereas, the rest of the audience (presumably mostly British) did not. I also really enjoyed all of the musical numbers because most of them were parodies of famous musical numbers from other musicals. For example, Hasa Diga Eebowai is a parody of Hakuna Matata from The Lion King.

Overall, the musical was absolutely AMAZING and HILARIOUS and I am so glad that I ended up seeing it for my birthday! However, it is full on inappropriate jokes and foul language, so I would not suggest taking young children to see it. If TV shows like South Park and Family Guy are similar to your sense of humor, The Book of Mormon will appeal to you.

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